The Everything Guide to a Happy Marriage: Expert advice and information for a happy life together


Every newly married couple wants to beat the odds and make their marriage work. Unfortunately, 50 percent of first marriages and 65 percent of second marriages fail. Clearly, couples need guidance and support to keep their partnerships strong. In this guide married couple Stephen Martin and Victoria Costello offer information, tips, and ...

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The Everything Guide to a Happy Marriage: Expert advice and information for a happy life together

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Every newly married couple wants to beat the odds and make their marriage work. Unfortunately, 50 percent of first marriages and 65 percent of second marriages fail. Clearly, couples need guidance and support to keep their partnerships strong. In this guide married couple Stephen Martin and Victoria Costello offer information, tips, and advice to help readers:

  • Recognize danger signs in a marriage
  • Communicate effectively
  • Handle discussions about money, sex, kids, and other tough topics
  • Keep the passion alive
  • Maintain a sense of identity within a partnership
  • Navigate special situations, such as stepfamilies and cultural differences

With the help of this concise book, couples can address problems before they become dealbreakers. From the stress of combining finances and raising kids to dealing with in-laws and blending families, there’s a lot of pressure in a marriage. But all it takes is a little information and determination to make it work—and to make it last.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605501345
  • Publisher: Adams Media
  • Publication date: 7/18/2009
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Martin, MFT (San Francisco, CA), is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Moss Beach and San Francisco, CA since 1985. He is the recent past president of the 26,000-member CA Association of Marriage Therapists, the largest organization of marriage counselors in the world. Mr. Martin is also a public speaker who gives presentations and couples workshops on making marriage work. An ordained Christian minister, Mr. Martin has performed marriages and conducted marriage counseling. He also writes for

Victoria Costello (San Francisco, CA) is an Emmy Award–winning journalist and documentary producer for PBS, Disney Channel, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, and HGTV.

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Table of Contents

Top Ten Things You Can Do to Make Your Marriage Work xiv

Introduction xv

Chapter 1 What Makes Marriage Work? 1

Marriage Is Like a Three-Legged Race 1

Practice and Teamwork 5

Communication 7

Trust 9

Honesty 11

Humor 13

A Plan B (When Everything Goes Wrong) 14

How to Assess Your Marriage 15

Chapter 2 Danger Signs in a Marriage 17

Don't Give Up Too Soon 17

When Talking Stops 20

Sex Interrupted 21

Emotional Drama 23

Spending Out of Balance 25

More Time Apart than Together 26

Mood Swings 27

Chapter 3 Power Sharing in Marriage 31

Reinventing History: This Is Not Your Parents' Marriage 31

Defining Your Ideal Marriage 34

Different Kinds of Power: His, Hers, and Ours 36

Creating a Working Partnership 37

Sharing Housework: Make a Contract 39

The Weekly Check-In 40

Chapter 4 He Said, She Said 43

Why Communication Is Important 43

The Ways Women and Men Communicate 44

Timing Is Everything 48

How Best to Talk and Listen 50

"You" Messages Versus "I" Messages 52

Pick Your Fights Carefully 53

Disagree Agreeably 57

Chapter 5 Ten Rules of Fair Fighting 61

What Is a Fair Fight? 61

Rule 1 Keep It Private 63

Rule 2 Schedule Your Arguments 63

Rules 3 and 4 Limit the Topic and Stay on Topic 65

Rule 5 Allow Time-Outs 71

Rule 6 Offer Solutions with Criticisms 73

Rule 7 Never Say "You Never" or "You Always" 74

Rule 8 Set Off-Limit Topics 76

Rule 9 Don't Save Up Anger 77

Rule 10 The Art of the Apology 80

Chapter 6 Marriage and Money: The Fault Lines 83

Finances as a Power Issue in Marriage 83

Who's the Spendthrift, Who's the Miser? 87

He Makes the Money, She Spends It 89

She Makes the Money, He Spends It92

Both Make the Money, Both Spends It 93

When Your Money Issues Show Up in Other Places 94

Chapter 7 Making Money Work in Marriage 97

Finding Common Money Values 97

How to Assess Your Spending Needs 101

The Three-Pot Approach: His, Hers, and Ours 102

Making a Budget Stick 104

Marriage as a Family Business 106

The Long-Distance Marriage 107

Chapter 8 Marriage and Sex 111

Creating Intimacy and Sexuality 111

The Challenge of the Familiar 113

Monogamy Brings Responsibility 114

Romancing the Marriage 117

Sex by Appointment 120

Pregnancy, Nursing, and Married Sex 120

Keeping Sex New as Your Marriage Matures 122

Chapter 9 Bringing Passion Back 123

Let's Talk about Sex 123

You Can Relight the Flame 127

Starting Fresh by Making Time and Effort 129

Massage for Lovers 130

Role-Playing and Fantasy Games 132

Renewing Your Sexual Relationship for the Long Term 135

Chapter 10 Surviving Infidelity 137

Defining Infidelity 137

Looking Is Not the Same as Doing 138

Why Men and Women Cheat 140

The Confrontation 142

Infidelity as a Symptom of Another Problem 146

Rebuilding Trust 148

Why Couples Stay Together after an Affair (Most Do) 151

Chapter 11 The Self in Marriage 153

Have a Blissful Union ... Without Losing Yourself 153

Reconcilable Differences 155

Problems from Blurred Boundaries 157

Balancing Conditional and Unconditional Love 158

Behind the Need to Control Your Partner 159

Together and Apart 163

Chapter 12 Marriage and Children 167

Parenting as a Team 167

Partners Before Parents 168

When Discipline Styles Differ 169

Creating a Family Culture of Respect 171

When Families Need Professional Help 173

Nuts and Bolts of Family Therapy 174

Special Needs Children and Marriage 176

Chapter 13 Marriage and Stepfamilies 181

The Challenges of Blended Families 181

Letting Go of the Past 183

Divorce a Spouse, Not Children 184

Stepparenting as Art, Not Science 186

Money and Blended Families 189

Parenting Stepsisters and Stepbrothers 190

Chapter 14 Marriage and In-Laws 193

After the Wedding 193

The Most Challenging In-Law Problems 196

Putting Your Partner First in Decision Making 198

Solutions for In-Law Problems 200

Privacy as a Marital Vow 203

Why Every Marriage Needs a Community 204

Chapter 15 Marriage Therapy 207

The Purpose of Marriage Therapy 207

The Role of the Marriage Therapist 209

How Long Will It Take? 211

Finding the Right Marriage Therapist 212

When to Bring the Children into Therapy 213

How Individual Therapy Helps a Troubled Marriage 214

What Marriage Therapy Can't Do 217

Chapter 16 The Newly Married Couple 219

From Honeymoon to Hibernation 219

Pitfalls of the First Year 222

Setting Up House Together 223

Friends: His, Hers, and Ours 224

Surviving Your First Blow-Ups 225

Building a Strong Foundation 227

Chapter 17 Marrying Different Cultures 229

The Challenges of Multicultural Marriages 229

When Different Religions Marry 231

Planning Holidays and Special Occasions 232

Nuts and Bolts of Cultural Differences 233

Language Barriers 234

Raising Biracial or Multicultural Children 235

Chapter 18 Divorce as Last Resort 237

How the Idea of Divorce Functions in Marriage 237

Women and Men in the Modern Divorce 239

The Reasons to Go Through with a Divorce 242

Revisiting "For the Sake of the Children" 244

The Decision to Divorce 246

Trial Separations 248

How to Inflict the Least Damage on Your Children 249

Chapter 19 Making Remarriage Work 253

Look Back and Learn 253

How to Heal a Broken Heart 254

Considering Remarriage 256

How to Use Your Time Between Marriage 258

Pitfalls of Remarriages 259

How to View a Prenuptial Agreement 260

Doing Things Differently 261

Chapter 20 A Long-Term Marriage 263

Why Some Marriages Last 263

The Challenges of Long-Term Marriage 265

Marriage Changes You, Too 267

Examining the Long-Term Marriage 268

Planning for the Future 271

Joys of Long-Term Marriage 272

Appendix A The Marriage Self-Test 275

Appendix B Resources 279

Index 281

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